Drivers need to know that the risk of dying in a car accident has increased significantly over the past two years.
As cars got safer and vehicle technologies improved, car accident fatality rates had been steadily declining for decades. This is no longer the case. Between 2015 and 2016, there was a six percent increase in the number of people who lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents. From 2014 to 2016, there was a 14 percent rise in car accident fatalities, according to a recent report from NPR. The death rate in car accidents topped 40,000 in 2016, which means more people died in 2016 than the number of killed in 2007 - the year before the great recession.
Because of a rising risk of auto accidents, it is more important than ever for motorists to know their rights when a collision occurs. It is also more important than ever for drivers to understand what they can do to try to reduce the chances they will become one of the thousands of victims whose lives are changed forever or whose lives are lost due to auto accidents.
Although a 14 percent increase in car accident fatalities over two years may not seem like a big deal, it is actually the largest increase in more than 50 years. If the trend continues and car accident rates keep going up, the roads will really become a very high-risk place.
NPR identifies a number of reasons why car accident rates have been going up so dramatically in recent years. Problems include an increased risk of drugged driving, more distracted drivers, a continued high number of drunk drivers, and a significant number of drivers who admit to speeding, using their phones, or running red lights. More than 70 percent of motorist said they've done these things, and more than 88 percent of drivers ages 19 to 24 said they do these things.
Since drivers are regularly distracted, drunk, on drugs, or going too fast, it should come as no surprise that around 94 percent of fatal car accidents occur because of human error. You can try to protect yourself from becoming involved in one of these accidents caused by driver behaviors by not engaging in high-risk actions yourself. You should never drink or use any controlled substance that is going to impact your driving ability. You should stay within the speed limit or drive slower if necessary to be safe; should never run red lights; and should not use any electronic devices in the car, even if those devices are hands-free.
The good news is there is a lot you can do to reduce your odds of a crash.
Unfortunately, sometimes even if you do everything right, there is never a guarantee that another driver won't do something wrong and cause you to suffer injuries. You need to talk with an attorney if someone does cause you harm to find out how to hold that person accountable for the losses you incurred.